Home' Partners : Partners January 2013 Contents agronomist with the International Maize and
Wheat Improvement Center).
"Traditionally, our farmers plough their lands
four to eight times to prepare it for planting
crops such as rice, wheat and mungbeans.
This is time-consuming and costly, and it also
destroys soil structure," Dr Haque says.
"I began investigating the opportunity
for conservation agriculture practices when I
visited many farms and field days in Australia
in 2007. The Australian farmers were using very
big machinery---10 to 20 metres long---but
that type of tractor is not useful in our country
due to our farm sizes.
"I could see that conservation agriculture
offered a lot in terms of reducing production
costs and the opportunity to maintain soil
health and improve productivity," he says. "With
ACIAR support, we did some research and
developed a planter for two-wheel tractors to
help farmers plant crops mechanically with
"It's called a versatile multi-crop planter
(VMP) and it has five specialties. It can do zero
tillage, it can do strip tillage, it can form beds
and plant on top of the beds, it can do single-
pass shallow tillage---even, if necessary, this
planter can be used for a conventional tillage
system," Dr Haque says.
Dr Haque has helped spread the
conservation agriculture approach in
Bangladesh. "The main purpose has been to
teach people how to use the multi-crop planter,
and how to manage their crops in a better way,"
The planter is now being produced in
Bangladesh for use locally and for export
around the world. There are now about 350,000
two-wheel tractors operating in Bangladesh
that could be modified to use planters.
"While many farmers are benefiting through
conservation agriculture, some of the biggest
beneficiaries have been the people who have
become machinery contractors," Professor Bell
says. "It has allowed them to transform their
families' lives from being very poor to being
Sree Shanaton Kumar Biswas operates one of
the planters, providing services to nearby farm
Becoming a contractor has turned around
the fortunes of his family. "I used to be a farm
labourer, then I sold clay pots to make money.
We were very poor. We often didn't have
enough food or good clothes," Mr Biswas says.
"I went along to one of the meetings about
the planter. We decided to buy one. There was a
huge demand for the planter from the farmers. I
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After the special puja ceremony Sree Shanaton Kumar Biswas sits with the Brahmin priest in front of
his tractors outside his home in Sonaikuri village.
Sree Shanaton Kumar Biswas stands in a plot of land he ploughed with his tractor before
the year's crop was sown. Shanaton and his family have been able to recieve a greater income
from the addition of the two-wheel tractor, which was purchased with ACIAR support.
had to have three drivers and we were working
day and night to meet demand. I made 80,000
taka (A$950) that year."
Since then Mr Biswas has paid back his loan
and has purchased 1.3 hectares of his own
As a result of his success, Mr Biswas is now
a respected member of the community. His
family has enough food, can pay for their
children's school fees and have become farmers
in their own right.
Mr Biswas and his family are so grateful for
the opportunity to turn their lives around that
they had a blessing for their tractor.
"I have given blessings to the gods many
times, but they did not change my life. This
planter has changed my life, so I have given
blessings to this planter.
"This machine is helping to improve our
lives, because it is the source of our income.
So we felt we should satisfy it like a god, so we
blessed it so that it can be more productive."
More than 3,000 small contractors like
Mr Biswas are now providing services to
150,000 farmers in Bangladesh. n
More information: View a video on the versatile
multi-crop planter and how Mr Biswas's
experience as a contractor has benefited his
family at the ACIAR website (www.aciar.gov.au)
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